Category Archives: Egyptian

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness, by Jaq White with reference to Bika Reed

In the text known as papyrus 3024 from the Berlin Museum, known by names such as “Man tired with his life”, “Man in conversation with his Soul”, “Man arguing with his Soul” we can perhaps study one of the earliest accounts of the confrontation with the ego. In 1978, Bika Reed translated the text from the perspective of the initiatic experience.

“The stubborn, passionate, long-suffering ass is the perfect natural symbol of our rational personality. It bears, like the ass, the weight of all our suffering, and carries us through life. It is stubborn, selfish and refuses to go where we think we best.
Yet paradoxically, it is the same stubborn ass, and only the ass, that can carry the Rebel to salvation; mounted upon the ass, man is mounted upon his own rebellion. The ass is the father of all rebels, but also the carrier of redemption.” – from “The Rebel in the Soul” by Bika Reed.

In Ancient Egypt, Iai, the Great Ass, is the aspect of the Sun God with Ass’s ears.  This is Osiris in his listening state; listening equalled wisdom to the Ancient Egyptians. The Book of the Gates depicts the progression of the sun through the night. The Twelve Hours of Night are depicted as regions of the Underworld. Each region is an Hour, and each Hour has its gate through which to pass. To pass, we must know the name of the gatekeeper, or guardian.

This is the same as identifying the layers of egos we each have within – an ego is what others might call one of the deadly sins, Pride, Envy, Greed…all those different aspects of the personality that can prevent us from progressing through the gates or stages of spiritual development.  When we look inwardly at the aspects of our personality that rule or affect our lives, we need to recognise what is affecting our spiritual progress; if we learn to use it wisely and become its master, instead of it being master over us, we then recognise the Guardian of that Gate – can name the Guardian, and can “pass through the Gate”

Consciousness moves from Gate to Gate. In Ancient Egypt, life and consciousness were synonymous. To be dead meant to be un-awakened and inert, moved like a leaf in the wind. To be dead, meant to be in a state of consciousness preceding consciousness or “life”.  In the section of the Ninth Hour, a crisis menaces the Solar Barque as it passes through the hours of the night. A double monster, half snake half crocodile, SHES-SHES, approaches the boat

The ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren (name), the Ba (similar to our concept of a soul, but also similar to ‘reputation’, the Ka (vital spark or essence that departs at the moment of death), the Sheut (referred to by Egyptologists as the Shadow – a person could not exist without a shadow and a shadow couldn’t exist with the person), and the Ib (metaphysical heart – the heart was believed to contain all the thought, will, intention; hence, after death, the Ib heart was weighed at the moment of judgement. If it weighed more than the feather of Maat (truth, universal law akin to Dharma) a “heavy heart”was consumed immediately by the monster, Ammit) .

Following the death of the Khat (body), the Ba and Ka were reunited to reanimate the Akh – translated as “the effective one”.

From the Eighteenth Dynasty tomb of Paheri, we have a description of this:

“Your life happening again, without your ba being kept away from your divine corpse, with your ba being together with the akh … You shall emerge each day and return each evening. A lamp will be lit for you in the night until the sunlight shines forth on your breast. You shall be told: “Welcome, welcome, into this your house of the living!”

In the argument with his Ba, the man is bargaining for the right to die because he can no longer face the suffering of living in this world without his mentor. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that a man and his Ba would be judged together in the afterlife; the Ba can make appeals on his behalf.  So the man is arguing with his Ba to persuade it that killing himself is the correct thing to do, as he wants it to accept his reasons, and agree with him so that it will stay with him after death and make favourable appeals. However, his Ba has other ideas..

“I spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbour’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

 

Hearts are great with greed

and there is no heart of a man or woman upon which one might lean.

None are just or righteous and the land is left to the doers of evil.

To whom shall I speak today?

There are no intimate friends

and the people turn to strangers to tell their troubles.

None are content and those with whom one used to walk no longer exist.

I am burdened with grief and have no one to comfort me.

There is no end to the wrong which roams the earth.

When we consider the age of this text, from  XII Dynasty  Egypt (approx 1991-1783 bc), we can see that the nature of the woes and troubles of humankind have changed very little.

This is where the text can also be read as a text of initiation.

The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.  It tells him some allegorical stories – the first being the “mythical field of transformations”; both the field AND the plough are to be found within man. The field is the ground; the earth, where the soul of the man dwells, and is to be cultivated by the ploughman – the man must “cultivate” himself.

The harvest is what is then offered back to the soul. The “harvest”, what is left of the man after his life, is in dangerous hands if left uncultivated. It is exposed to a “storm from the North” said to indicate the Head (Reason); the storm is consciousness threatened by intellectual rebellion.
The man at this point in the story, when his Rebel/ego is arguing for survival, is not yet ready to let the wisdom of his heart rule his intellect, and this is symbolised by the crocodile. The man’s heirs, in the story he is told by his soul, are eaten by a crocodile whilst still in the egg, before they are fully formed, before they have lived, and will never realise their potential.

Image

The ‘heir’ in the egg symbolises what the cultivated man could become. Here we can see it as an unborn Akh.

The Man’s Ba is teaching him that The Great Ass, the ego and False Self,  must be sacrificed to the crocodile. Unless this sacrifice is made, the man cannot travel further through the Hours of the Night to the light of dawn;  he will never integrate with his mystical body and be re-born.

Anubis, the god of the Underworld, is also the god of helping us realise our full potential, as protector of the Soul in its journey through the Underworld.

Reed tells us:

“The Ancient Egyptian Myth which describes the birth of the redeemer, Anubis, gives us an insight into this dramatic turning, or birth into higher consciousness. In this myth, the jackal god is pursuing Seth, the Enemy of Light, who takes the form of a panther and escapes the dog.

But the mother dog, Isis, sees the panther and catches up. Terrified of the wild bitch, the panther transforms himself into the dog, his own pursuer. But Isis digs her teeth into his back. Caught, Seth cries, “Why are you pursuing this poor dog who does not exist?” The myth then says “And this is how he became. HE BECAME (IN PU) is the Egyptian name for Anubis, the first Priest of Osiris. The Redeemer (IN PU) only comes to life by seeing his own “inexistence”

In other words, we will only reach our full potential when we ‘pursue’ ourselves, and by doing this – the Work on the Self: cultivation, we will understand the need to sacrifice our false identity. Our ego will argue for its own survival, and this Rebel will put up the greatest fight, until we recognise it for what it is – a false non-existent self – and are born into higher consciousness, as our own “heir”.

The man shows he has understood:

In truth, he who is yonder will be a living god,
punishing the crime of him who does it.

In truth, he who is yonder will stand in the Bark of the Sun,
making its bounty flow  to the temples.

In truth, he who is yonder will be a wise man,
who cannot, when he speaks, be stopped
from appealing to Re !

His Ba answers:

Throw complaint over the fence,
you my comrade, my brother!
May you make offering upon the brazier,  and cling to life by the means you describe! Yet love me here, having put aside the West!
[the West is where the deceased goin the Ancient Egyptian belief system]

But when it is wished that you attain the West, that your body joins the earth, then I shall alight after you have become weary, and then we shall dwell together!”

Commentary on the Book of Gates

Further insights on Berlin Papyrus 3024  http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/ba.htm

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Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Aten – Similarities in the attributes and praises with Biblical parallels and Psalm 104

Similarities in the attributes and praises given to the Aten, in prose and written by Pharaoh Akhenaten in approx. 1300 bce. with Biblical parallels and Psalm 104

For Akhenaten, the sun and its powers represented more than simply heat and light. For example, he credits the sun with giving air to an unborn chick inside and egg, and with creating a version of the Nile river in the sky in order to provide rain.
With regard to the chick in the shell, the sun even ‘allotted to him his set time before the shell shall be broken’, so its powers even governed time.

Everything in creation was fashioned by this one creator according to Akhenaten ‘O sole God, beside whom is no other!’
Also, ‘You are the One God, shining forth from your possible incarnations as Aton, the Living Sun, You create the numberless things of this world from yourself, who are One alone.’
From this we see that Akhenaten thought ‘the god’ so powerful that it was free to choose whatever form it wished, and that the creator power was manifest in the cosmos in its chosen form as the sun.
The sun was his Father, and as with all pharaohs, Akhenaten was also ‘Divine’. Amenhotep III was merely his earthly father. Alexander adopted this fashion when he proclaimed he was the son of the Egyptian god Amun; Philip was his earthly father.

Yet despite Akhenaten’s god being his loving father, in-keeping with the later monotheist gods, “The theistic God was also presumed to be the explanation for that which was beyond rational understanding, a being capable of miraculous power who therefore needed to be supplicated, praised, obeyed and pleased.” (Author BA Robinson ‘How the concepts of God have developed over the ages’)

And for Akhenaten, as for others in later times, this god was inherent in the light.

Cosmology was a hot topic amongst early philosophers. ‘Aristotle, the major source for Thales’s philosophy and science, identified Thales as the first person to investigate the basic principles, the question of the originating substances of matter and, therefore, as the founder of the school of natural philosophy. Thales was interested in almost everything, investigating almost all areas of knowledge, philosophy, history, science, mathematics, engineering, geography, and politics. He proposed theories to explain many of the events of nature, the primary substance, the support of the earth, and the cause of change. Thales was much involved in the problems of astronomy and provided a number of explanations of cosmological events which traditionally involved supernatural entities. His questioning approach to the understanding of heavenly phenomena was the beginning of Greek astronomy. Thales’s hypotheses were new and bold, and in freeing phenomena from godly intervention, he paved the way towards scientific endeavour.’ (from the Internet encyclopaedia of philosophy)
http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/thales.htm

Yet at the same time, the early philosophers were also immensely influential in the development and advancement of spiritual theories. Early commentaries on rival religious groups would be written by the favoured philosopher, carefully chosen to write for, or against the variety of beliefs on offer and circulating amongst the growing populations in major cities.

Before the time of Akhenaten, the Ancient Egyptians (among other cultures) had believed that [the soul of] the deceased would travel to place of judgement, where it would have some form of a trial, with representatives among the entities present who would speak both for and against the deceased. We see places of torment for punishment of wrongdoing in the majority of belief systems of most cultures.
From Ancient Egypt we have forms of what is known as ‘The negative confession’ which has parallels with the Ten Commandments, and whereby the deceased proclaims a number of ‘declarations of innocence’

I have not caused pain,
I have not caused tears.
I have not killed,
I have not ordered to kill,

We see evidence of similar cosmological musings in the many texts discovered in recent history that date back to the last few centuries bce, one example being the texts known as the Pistis Sophia. At least half of the text describes the successive steps by which she ascends through all the Twelve Æons by the Saviour’s aid, and the confession she sings at each stage of her deliverance out of chaos.

Early Christian writings, canonical and non-canonical, use cosmological allegory.
We can see direct comparisons, similar to those used above by Akhenaten in the praise of his supposed creator.

We see explorations of how man and cosmos are related, in complicated Egyptian texts and in later works like the Divine Poeimandres, The Apocryphon of John, and in the more familiar canonical works which attempt to describe what has become known as ‘the fall’ of man from the heavens.

In the Apocryphon of John, this god is the monad. “The Monad is a monarchy with nothing above it. It is he who exists as God and Father of everything, the invisible One who is above everything, who exists as incorruption, which is in the pure light into which no eye can look. http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn.html

Because we can trace these explorations in monotheism, and the progression of ideas related to man’s place in the cosmos and to the fate of his immortal soul, I suggest that there can be no claim to ownership of any unique, correct ‘system’, and that what an individual accepts as true, or as having been inspired (according to those who were entrusted with advancing a particular philosophy) by ‘The Creator’ is entirely based on the amount/limit of this information they have been exposed to, and on their own intellectual interpretation of ‘experiences’ related to this stimulus.

The Question of Psalm 104

“During Akenaten’s reign, Egypt’s power significantly declined. When Akenaten died, his temples were destroyed. Among the few remains of his cult were hymns found written in the tombs of the proselytes at Amarna. The longest of these hymns to Aten is noted to be similar to the Psalm 104, written for the Bible hundreds of years later.

There are a few possibilities for how this might have come about. It is fairly certain that, even previous to the time of Moses, fleeing slaves in groups of various sizes, had wondered into the Sinai Peninsula. As the emigrants walked, they sang to keep up their spirits. One of the songs they sang may have been Akenaten’s hymn to the Sun. Oral tradition could have perpetuated the elements of his hymn for 600 years.

For those who are unconvinced about the similarity of these two documents, Jacob’s descent into Egypt, described in the Bible, recalls the Hyksos dynasties, where the Iron age Canaanites conquered Egypt and ruled for several generations as Pharaohs. When the descendants of the original rulers regrouped and repelled the Hyksos, both the conquerors and the large Semitic population that had entered as migrant workers before and during the foreign dynasty were either driven out or placed in bondage. This was the beginning of the 400 years of slavery. Through those who were driven out, Hymns to the Sun were introduced into Canaan. Probably due to this, worship of the Sun is forbidden in the Bible.

Another possibility stems from the evidence of Persian names in residence at Amarna. These were literate people who may have transcribed Akenaten’s poems. This would have placed the essence of this poem in Babylon, a world center for literature, by 600BC when the Jews were in exile, and the early Hebrew bible was assembled.

Dr. H. Brugsch collected quite a few epithets and quotes from Egyptian scripture around fifty years ago and published them in his work, ‘Religion and Mythology’. Much of Psalm 104 is vaguely similar to Egyptian Hymns, such as the following hymn to Ra from the Papyrus of Hu-nefer: ( Copyright©Alden Bacuzmo) read more here  http://www.seanet.com/~realistic/psalm104.html

The Eight points of comparison: Psalm 104 and the Hymn to Aten

The following text in [–] is from Psalm 104 while the remainder is quoted translation by J.H.Breasted, from Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II, Chapters 5 & 6.. and “The Rock Tombs of Tell el Armarna”, Archeological Survey, Egyptian Exploration Society (6vol, 1903) N. de G. Davis.

PSALM 104
[20. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. 21. The young Lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God.] The tradition of Egyptian, Hindu, and Hebrew cultures starts the day at sunset. Today the day normally starts at sunrise.

AKHENATEN’S THE HYMN TO THE SUN
When thou settest in the western horizon of the sky,
[1st comparison, verse 20]
The earth is in darkness like the dead.
They sleep in their chambers
Their heads are wrapped up.
Their nostrils are stopped
And none see the other.
While all their things are stolen
Which are under their heads
And they know it not
Every Lion cometh forth from his den
[2nd comparison, verse 21]
All Serpents they sting
Darkness The world is in silence.
He that made them resteth in his horizon.

Akhenaten-sphinx-Amarna
Akhenaten depicted as a sphinx at Amarna, bathed in the rays of the aten/sun

[22. The Sun riseth, they get them away,
and lay them down in their dens. 23. Man
goeth forth unto his work And to his labor until
the evening.]

Bright is the earth when thou riseth in the horizon.
[3rd , 22]
When thou shinest as Aten by day
Thou drivest away the darkness.
When thou sendest forth thy rays
The two lands (Egypt) are in daily festivity.
Awake and standing upon their feet
When thou has raised them up.
Their limbs bathed they take their clothing
Their arms uplifted in adoration to thy dawning
Then in all the world they do their work.. [4th, 23]

All cattle rest upon their pasturage
The trees and the plants flourish

[12. By them the birds of the heavens have their
habitation. They sing among the branches.]

The birds flutter in their marshes, [5th, 12]
Their wings uplifted in adoration to thee.
All sheep dance on their feet.
All winged things fly,
They live when thou hast shone upon them.

[25. Yonder is the sea great and wide. Wherein
are things creeping innumerable. Both small and
great beasts. 26. There go the ships.]

The barges sail upstream and downstream alike.
[6th, 26]
Every highway is open because thou dawnest.
The fish in the river leap before thee.
Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.
Creator of the germ in woman
Maker of the seed in man
Giving life to the son in the body of his mother
Soothing him that he may not weep.
Nurse (even) in the womb.

[29. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled.
Thou takest away their breath and they die.
And return to their dust.]

Giver of breath to animals, every one that he maketh
When he cometh forth from the womb [7th, 29]
On the day of their birth
Thou openest his mouth in speech

[27. These wait all for thee. That thou may give them
food in due season.]

Akhenaten and child
Akhenaten cradling his child while the rays of Aten present Ankhs – the breath/gift/light of life

Thou suppliest his necessities.[8th, 27]

When the fledgling in the egg chirps in the shell
Thou givest him breath there-in to preserve him alive.
When thou hast brought him together
to (the point of) bursting it in the egg
To chirp with all his might,
He goeth about on his two feet
When he hath come forth therefrom.

How manifold are thy works,
They are hidden from before (us)
O Sole God, whose powers no other possesseth.
Thou didst create the earth according to thy heart
While thou wast alone
Man, all cattle, large and small
All that are upon the earth
That go about on their feet
(All) That are on high
That fly with their wings
The foreign countries, Syria and Kush,
The land of Egypt
Thou settest every man into his place
Thou suppliest their necessities
Everyone has his possessions
And his days are reckoned
The tongues are divers in speech
Their forms likewise and their skins are distinguished
(For) thou makest different the strangers.

And here is a comparison of the Hymn to the Aten with other Biblical and LDS parallels

http://james.jlcarroll.net/egypt/texts/aten_hymn.html

And the Hymn to the Aten in full:

Let your holy Light shine from the height of heaven,
O living Aton,
source of all life!
From estern horizon risen and streaming,
you have flooded the world with your beauty.
You are majestic, awesome, bedazzling, exalted,
overlord over all earth,
yet your rays, they touch lightly, compass the lands
to the limits of all your creation.
There in the Sun, you reach to the farthest of those
you would gather in for your Son,
whom you love;
Though you are far, your light is wide upon earth;
and you shine in the faces of all
who turn to follow your journeying.
When you sink to rest below western horizon
earth lies in darkness like death,
Sleepers are still in bedchambers, heads veiled,
eye cannot spy a companion;
All their goods could be stolen away,
heads heavy there, and they never knowing!
Lions come out from the deeps of their caves,
snakes bite and sting;
Darkness muffles, and earth is silent
he who created all things lies low in his tomb.
Earth-dawning mounts the horizon,
glows in the sun-disk as day:
You drive away darkness, offer your arrows of shining,
and the Two Lands are lively with morningsong.
Sun’s children awaken and stand,
for you, golden light, have upraised the sleepers;
Bathed are their bodies, who dress in clean linen,
their arms held high to praise your Return.
Across the face of the earth
they go to their crafts and profession
he herds are at peace in their pastures,
trees and the vegetation grow green;
Birds start from their nests,
wings wide spread to worship your Person;
Small beasts frisk and gambol, and all
who mount into flight or settle to rest
live, once you have shone upon them;
Ships float downstream or sail for the south,
each path lies open because of your rising;
Rish in the River leap in your sight,
and your rays strike deep in the Great Green
It is you [who] create the new creature in Woman,
shape the life-giving drops into Man,
Foster the son in the womb of his mother,
soothe him, ending his tears;
Nurse through the long generations of women
to those given Air,
you ensure that your handiwork prosper.
When the new one descends from the womb
to draw breath the day of his birth,
You open his mouth, you shape his nature,
and you supply all his necessities.
Hark to the chick in the egg,
he who speaks in the shell!
You give him air within
to save and prosper him;
And you have allotted to him his set time
before the shell shall be broken;
Then out from the egg he comes,
from the egg to peep at his natal hour!
And up on his own two feet goes he
when at last he struts forth therefrom.
How various is the world you have created,
each thing mysterious, sacred to sight,
O sole God,
beside whom is no other!
You fashioned earth to your heart’s desire,
while you were still alone,
Filled it with man and the family of creatures,
each kind on the ground, those who go upon feet,
he on high soaring on wings,
The far lands of Khor and Kush,
and the rich Black Land of Egypt.
And you place each one in his proper station,
where you minister to his needs;
Each has his portions of food,
and the years of life are reckoned him,
Tongues are divided by words,
natures made diverse as well,
Even men’s skins are different
that you might distinguish the nations.
You make Hapy, the Nile, stream through the underworld,
and bring him, with whatever fullness you will,
To preserve and nourish the People
in the same skilled way you fashion them.
You are Lord of each one,
who wearies himself in their service,
Yet Lord of all earth, who shines for them all,
Sun-disk of day, holy Light!
All of the far foreign contries–
you are the cause they live,
For you have put a Nile in the sky
that he might descend upon them in rain–
He makes waves on the very mountains
like waves on the Great Green Sea
to water their fields and their villages.
How splendidly ordered are they,
your purposes for this world,
O Lord of Eternity, Hapy in heaven!
Although you belong to the distant peoples,
to the small, shy beasts
who travel the deserts and uplands,
Yet Hapy, he comes from Below
for the dear Land of Egypt as well.
And your Sunlight nurses each field and meadow:
when you shine, they live,
they grow sturdy and prosper through you.
You set seasons to let the world flower and flourish–
winter to rest and refresh it,
the hot blast of summer to ripen;
And you have made heaven far off
in order to shine down therefrom,
in order to watch over all your creation.
You are the One God,
shining forth from your possible incarnations
as Aton, the Living Sun,
Revealed like a king in glory, risen in light,
now distant, now bending nearby.
You create the numberless things of this world
from yourself, who are One alone–
cities, towns, fields, the roadway, the River;
And each eye looks back and beholds you
to learn from the day’s light perfection.
O God, you are in the Sun disk of Day,
Over-Seer of all creation
–your legacy
passed on to all who shall every be;
For you fashioned their sight, who perceive your universe,
that they praise with one voice
all your labors.
And you are in my heart;
there is no other who truly knows you
but for your son, Akhenaten.
May you make him wise with your inmost counsels,
wise with your power,
that earth may aspire to your godhead,
its creatures fine as the day you made them.
Once you rose into shining, they lived;
when you sink to rest, they shall die.
For it is you who are Time itself,
the span of the world;
life is by means of you.

Eyes are filled with beauty
until you go to your rest;
All work is laid aside
as you sink down the western horizon.

Then, Shine reborn! Rise splendidly!
my Lord, let life thrive for the King
Who has kept peace with your every footstep
since you first measured ground for the world.
Lift up the creatures of earth for your Son
who came forth from your Body of Fire!

Pharaoh Akhenaten

1300 BCE